First up, huge congrats to everyone who race the Chilly Half on the weekend. Carol, David, Zoë, Sean, Jason, Patrick W and myself. I don’t think it was a super fast day, and for most people it was a fitness check-in and “training through” race, but still some solid results!
Of course, since I just raced, I’ve been thinking about races. I find it so interesting how we approach them and what we get from them. I think the number one thing about races is that they expose our raw vulnerability. We are openly showing ourselves trying our hardest. I will never not admire anyone who shows up to a race start line. It takes courage and guts to test yourself and see what you are capable of when things get hard – let alone doing that in front of friends and strangers. It’s funny that we do this, considering how much effort we put into making things easier and making ourselves feel less exposed and vulnerable in the rest of our lives. We like to be in control. When we expose ourselves to the world, we like to present the curated side our ourselves that we’ve examined and retouched into a version that portrays the image we want. We buy clothes and get haircuts that flatter, we put filters on our Instagram, we include excuses and show or hide the data we want on our Strava. But when we race, we are truly uncovered, vulnerable, and not in control of everything. We may have a plan, and know how we would like things to go, but we have no clue whether it will all turn out. And then we encounter effort, struggle and pain and face it and respond publicly. All in all, it’s just running, and pretty low stakes, but it’s interesting that we put ourselves in this situation at all. Maybe it’s because the rest of our lives are so protected from it. Maybe it’s because it’s the only way to be truly honest with ourselves. Maybe we know it’s the only way to show up genuinely. Maybe we know it’s likely the purest way to truly test our best effort. So we step up and go for it.
I found it interesting this weekend how keyed up we get around this self-imposed situation. Maybe some people don’t. I think most people get a bit stressed and nervous before this type of “test”. Even when we know it’s not a “key” race. Even the veteran athletes who have a lot of experience with these types of things – or maybe them even more so. An elite athlete friend of mine told me something she does to deal with the anxiety: she tells herself that while running is part of her identity, she also has a huge other part of her identity which is drawn from her values. And if she can race while maintaining her values then that is something she can control, and she’s not risking any part of her self-image or concern about how others view and judge her. I liked that. Race according to your values. And if your values include hard work, community, humility, learning, and growth, you are in a good spot.
Onto tomorrow’s workout – we’re back to hills!
Let’s do them like this:
1st hill – steady up/steady down
2nd hill – first half steady/second half hard/easy down
3rd hill – first half hard/second half steady/easy down
Repeat sequence – max 8-9 hills (Beach ppl, Pottery is ~400m, so similar distance)
The purpose of this workout is just good ol’ strengthening of your hill legs, but also practicing pace changes and the ability to settle in and keep going when tired – as happens in races!
If you’re racing Achilles this weekend:
2 sets of 3 x 400 – first set at 10K pace, second set at goal 5K pace. 1:15 between reps, 3:00 between sets.
Or 2 x (3 x 1:30 on, 1:15 off) with 3 mins easy in between
If you raced Chilly you can do a couple of easy hills, but no workout yet. I will be at Pottery but am doing a tempo wrkt on Thurs (March Break scheduling issues!) so will just cheer you guys on.
See you in the am!